Heartbreak

4 Simple Ways Parents Can Survive The Death Of A Child

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Sad woman coping with grief

There are many forms of grief that you will face in your life. Some are more difficult to fathom than others. The tough ones like a failed relationship or the loss of a job are rough enough, but there is one loss that is considered the most challenging of all.

The loss of a child.

The loss of a child is not an experience that you expect to endure because it is such an unnatural occurrence. A child is part of your legacy and, to many, becoming a parent is the highest form of achievement that you can accomplish in your life. When a child is lost it affects your very core.

The sense of damage is often unbearable.

To Move Forward, Find A Way To Cope

It does not matter how the child was lost. The hurt of the loss never really goes away. There can be a sense of failure that surrounds this kind of loss and healing from it may simply be impossible.

The solution to moving on from this tragedy is to learn how to cope with it.

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1. Face the shock of premature death

Premature death is shocking and keeping it together is not easy. The mental, physical and spiritual pain from the loss of your offspring can create a cycle of other events that can stifle the strongest individuals.

It can create chaos in other areas of your life that had been relatively stable.

A spiral of other unpleasantries can occur if you are not careful. There are no set answers for coping with this problem, but an individual strategy can be created to help.

Since there is no formula for handling this kind of tragedy, you must employ whatever positive behavior you can produce to soothe your pain.

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2. Practice the virtue of commitment

The topic of the loss of a child is not easy to discuss but it is necessary because it is a form of grief that is life-altering. Friends or close colleagues are often told to “mind their own business” but this kind of behavior is not helpful to you or them because they are suffering from the same loss.

The others who are hurting may not suffer the same degree of pain, but they are attempting to process the loss as well.

It may sound trite to speak of virtues at this time, but this is a moment when they can matter the most. The virtue of commitment is one of the first that is exhibited by many parents who have lost a child.

This virtue is very important because re-committing yourself to your spouse, significant other, closest family, and friends is essential in the healing process.

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You can nurture each other through your pain.

The touch of another loved one — hugging you or holding your hand — is a life link to coping. Re-committing to your spouse or significant other validates the bond that each of you has and the one that was there when you created or adopted your child. Devotion, cuddling, and intimacy allow you some respite and are unique moments that only the two of you can share.

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It is your partner who understands your feelings the most and this is not the time to push them away. Your other friends and family are there for you and you are there for them. Ironically, the bond you have with those closest to you becomes stronger during this difficult situation.

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This kind of tragedy can bring out problems in a relationship and force those issues to the forefront. 

Many couples separate after a child is lost because other problems that were not pressing are now front and center. It is another heartbreak that results from losing a child, but it may be necessary for an individual to cope if the relationship is not strong enough to survive.

Seeking and giving acknowledgment to others after losing a child is monumental in carrying on. If you do not have anyone to who you can turn at this moment, then seeking help from a therapist or an outreach program is a necessity for your well-being. Emotional support is critical because it is needed at this time.

Some isolation and privacy are expected after your loss but there is a point when isolation becomes negative and accepting the love, support, and nurturing others have for you is a good thing. It will make you feel wanted and that your loss is not discounted in any way. A balance between isolation and socializing with loved ones can prevent negativity.

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3. Seek perspective

The act of taking care of yourself is paramount with any form of grief but this type of grief is most likely shared by others. You are the most important person who needs the love and nurturing of others at this time, but it is you who must learn to persevere. You may not be used to accepting help, but it may be one of the things that assist you in your self-care.

It is your act of self-love and other virtues that will help you cope. You may never be able to overcome all your grief from your loss but learning to function positively is a necessity. Being magnanimous in this loss and gaining perspective will hopefully come to you at some point. These attributes are essential in keeping a positive outlook on your future.

A sense of guilt and feeling that you did something wrong may surround your loss. Parents who suffer this loss often feel they did not protect their child enough, but this is just a sign of a good parent grieving. Forgiving yourself if you have a sense of failure is a necessity for your ability to cope with this loss.

Your child lives on in the Spirit World and your relationship with them continues in spirit. It is not the situation that is the most desirable, but it is your belief in it that can bring you some peace of mind. A spiritual perspective is necessary during extreme situations because it is a higher power that will give you the fortitude that you need.

Prayer, meditation, and memorializing your child can bring a sense of peace.  The ability to find or develop positive skills to manage is essential for coping. Expressing your emotions is healthy but negative actions or approaches will simply create adversity and more difficulties that can damage your life.

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4. Know that life is worth living

A loss of a child is devastating but it does not mean that life is not worth living or that you cannot move ahead in the future. It is an unfortunate part of your journey that you cannot ignore. You did not deserve this tragedy, but it occurred, and it has altered your life forever.

Coping with grief is not easy and this type of grief is the most difficult. Re-committing to those who love you and the ones you love is helpful. Seeking professional help and/or support groups is advisable, but it is only you who can determine your path forward. Navigating this uncharted path is an individual one but trying to have a positive perspective is necessary for you to survive.

Your spiritual life is an important ingredient for coping and should be relied upon for perspective.  Memorializing and recalling the joy of having made a child in your life is a good thing. You may never fully recover from your loss but at least you may learn to cope with the tragedy and try to grow from it.

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John Cappello, M.B.A., is a psychic medium and author of the book, Open the Mind Heal the Heart.

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